Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Britain's beekeepers told to be alert for arrival of Asian hornets

Vespa velutina, which preys on honey bees, is already spreading rapidly across mainland Europe and could pose a serious risk to the UK’s apiculture

Tuesday 21 April 2015 14.04 BSTLast modified on Tuesday 21 April 201518.31 BST

Beekeepers have been told to be alert for invading hornets that have killed six people in France and could pose to serious risk to Britain’s honey bees.

The Asian hornet, which preys on honey bees, is spreading rapidly across France and other parts of mainland Europe, and there are fears its arrival in Britain is only a matter of time – particularly in light of the unusually warm spring weather.

The hornets’ sting can cause deadly allergic reactions in humans but officials are particularly worried about their impact on the crucial ecological role played by honeybees, and the possibility they could permanently affect Britain’s biodiversity.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “It’s not great news for bees because they are not a friend to the humble honey bee, and that’s why we don’t want them here.”

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